A Celebrity Among Islands
A weathered and solitary tree standing branches outstretched like an island oracle in a sand bar silhouetted against the setting sun: This is Harbour Island. The smell of conch fritters at Avery’s melding with the scent of Caribbean gourmet kitchens at the Landing: This is Harbour Island. The late night sound of Bahamian music - favourites like Ancient Man and KB - sailing out of Gusty’s Bar: This is the famous Harbour Island, a little place with a big personality.
Roosters crossing the road at midday find shade under the eaves of a grey stone church; New England style pink and yellow houses with white picket fences and intricately carved moldings line the narrow streets; you are more likely to see golf cars humming along than gasoline fueled cars, and quaint shops, boutique hotels, cafes and local take out spots.
Harbour Island is a place where fond memories are create. Its famous three and a half mile stretch of salmon pink sand beach, which Brilanders and connoisseurs of island life alike say is the most divine beach in the world, is just a ferry ride from Nassau, or boat taxi from Eleuthera’s northeastern point. You can hardly find a vacation home or hotel without a beach view, so wherever you are, there is the sea, the pink sand and the wide open Bahamian sky.
Brilanders are proud of their island. And have always lived quite comfortably side by side with celebrities from all parts of the globe: stars like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. To play it like a local, don’t be star struck if Cameron Diaz sits down next to you at Sip Sip or Rock House Restaurant overlooking the Bay. Or if Penélope Cruz leaves the spa as you’re coming in. The truth is, Harbour Island, the first capital of the Bahamas, is itself a celebrity.
Settled by runaway English Puritans who adventured to Eleuthera in 1648 from Bermuda, Harbour Island became a safe haven when Eleuthera was the target of Spanish invaders. Survivors in spirit and by craft, those early settlers made a living off shipbuilding, sugar refinement and, during prohibition, rum making. They built one of the most profitable settlements in the Bahamas outside of Nassau. Even before the dawn of modern tourism, Harbour Island was the home of summer visitors like Governor of the Bahamas Lord John Dunmore. The island’s capital Dunmore Town is named after this 1786 governor.